Amaryllis stood across the street from the Holy Deliverance Baptist Church watching the festivities. Thirty feet away from her, Randall, dressed in a white tuxedo, stood next to a white stretch Hummer limousine that was waiting to drive him, his wife and three children off into the sunset. Amaryllis choked back tears as she fought so hard not to swallow. Her left eye, blackened and almost swollen shut, made it difficult for her to witness the celebration and get a good look at Randall's bride. It wasn't until Gabrielle turned in her direction to receive hugs and kisses from family and church members that Amaryllis was allowed to see the face of the woman who had taken her place in Randall's life.
She scanned Gabrielle's face and body, looking for something that would attract Randall to her. Gabrielle wasn't a diva in Amaryllis' eyes. Gabrielle didn't have highlights in her hair, and the only make-up she wore, as far as Amaryllis could tell from where she stood, was a soft layer of burgundy lip gloss. When Gabrielle let go of the embrace she was in, Amaryllis saw the crucifix around her neck sparkle. She knew right then that although Gabrielle wasn't a drop-dead gorgeous beauty, she had the one thing that Amaryllis didn't have, a heart for God, and more than anything, that was what Randall really desired in a woman.
Amaryllis shifted her weight to ease the pressure from her broken leg. She repositioned the crutches and leaned her body against one. Randall looked happy. At least, from across the street he did. She saw his son, Joshua, wrap his arms around Randall's legs and hold on for dear life. Randall seemed to enjoy having this boy in his life. Amaryllis watched as Randall knelt to whisper words in Joshua's ear and give him an encouraging pat on his shoulder. Joshua nodded in understanding of what his father whispered to him, yet, he still hung onto Randall for a sense of security. It was almost as if Joshua thought someone would snatch him away from Randall if he loosened his grip.
In the cradle of his right arm, Randall held his youngest daughter, Eboni. She lay comfortably on his shoulder, facing away from all the well-wishers who tried to pinch her cheek. The look on Eboni's face told the world that she didn't want to be bothered, and if Daddy tried to get her to say âhello' one more time, she was gonna scream.
The small, petite fingers joined with Randall's right hand belonged to his eldest daughter, Tamika. Amaryllis could tell she was definitely a Daddy's girl. She was friendlier than her sister. Tamika stood proudly next to Randall in her miniature wedding gown, swinging her little flower basket back and forth, watching everyone make a fuss over Uncle Cordell's and Daddy's double wedding. The pastor and his best friend, marrying identical twin sisters, had been the hot topic of the church for weeks.
Someone spoke to Eboni and she swiftly turned her face away and buried her nose in the crook of Randall's neck, trying to get away from the crowd and drown out the noise. That's when Amaryllis saw Randall and his family get into the Hummer. Apparently Eboni had had enough excitement for one day, and Randall seemed to want to get her to a more relaxed atmosphere.
Amaryllis saw Randall and Cordell embrace before Randall got inside of the limousine and it pulled away from the curb. She stood watching the back of the limousine until it disappeared from her sight.
“Amaryllis?” Cordell was standing on the curb with his arm wrapped around his wife's waist when he called out to her.
Amaryllis hadn't wanted either Randall or Cordell to see her, and now it was too late to get out of view. She blamed Cordell for the failure of her and Randall's relationship. From the very beginning, he was against it and voiced his opinion to Randall every chance he got. Today, if Amaryllis didn't know any better, she'd swear Cordell wore a sneer on his face that said, “How you like us now?” She stuck her middle finger up at Cordell then turned and limped down the street on her crutches.
The beating she had received from Darryl was taking its toll on her body. One morning, a month before Randall's wedding, Amaryllis had called Bridgette, her best friend and co-worker, at the law office, saying she'd be a few hours late getting to work. She had become accustomed to spending more and more time in between Darryl's sheets, as long as he was paying for her company.
Darryl had called Amaryllis up that morning, saying he'd make it worth her while if she joined him for an early morning rendezvous. For the love of money and the riverboat casino where she indulged her gambling habit, Amaryllis would do almost anything. She had been living with her mother, Veronica, since her break-up with Randall.
Veronica had walked past Amaryllis' bedroom and saw her packing massage oil in a duffel bag. “Why are you taking that stuff to work?”
Amaryllis zipped the bag closed. “I'm going in late today. Darryl called.”
Veronica was pleased. “I see that I taught you well. When the opportunity to make money knocks, you're supposed to open the door. Make that money, honey, and don't forget to give me my cut. If it wasn't for my genes that made you as pretty as you are, men wouldn't give you a second look.”
Amaryllis admired herself in the mirror. “Mirror mirror on the wall, who's the finest one of all?”
Veronica stepped behind her daughter and looked at her reflection. “Amaryllis Price is. Now go on and get out of here; duty calls. And remember what I taught you. Closed legs don't get fed.”
While she drove north on Interstate 294, Amaryllis was on an emotional high. Darryl had told her he'd make it worth her while, and considering the fact that she would miss at least two hours of work. Having to pay Bridgette to cover her workload until she got to the office would cost Darryl big time.
Amaryllis was grateful for Bridgette. Had it not been for her friendship, Amaryllis, an administrative assistant, couldn't have gotten away with half of the things she did. But Bridgette wasn't a cheap friend. Amaryllis had paid a high price each time she played hooky from work. She didn't mind though. As long as Darryl's posse kept selling drugs for him, he was happy. And the happier Darryl was, the more generous he was with his money. As she drove, she wondered what types of kinky things Darryl would want her to partake in. When she got to his house, she would tell Darryl her price had gone up. Since he'd said that he would make it worth her while, Amaryllis would hold him to it.
She drove through the black iron gates that led her into the familiar community of estate homes and mini-mansions in Long Grove, Illinois. She parked her car in the circular driveway behind Darryl's Escalade. Amaryllis saw a baby blue, late model Dodge Charger and a candy apple red Ford Mustang parked outside the four-car garage. On the telephone, Darryl had given Amaryllis the impression they'd be alone.
She opened the unlocked door and entered the foyer. Darryl yelled from the master suite for her to come upstairs. When Amaryllis walked through the open double doors to the master suite, she saw Darryl lying in the middle of his California king sized bed completely naked. Obviously, foreplay wouldn't be necessary. Darryl was ready.
“Looks like you've started without me,” she said.
“Nah, I'm just laying here waiting in anticipation.”
Amaryllis glanced outside the master suite door, looking to see if anyone else was in the house with her and Darryl. “I saw two cars outside. Who else is here?”
Darryl shrugged his shoulders. “Just three friends who stayed over.”
Amaryllis undressed and got into bed with Darryl, all prepared to give him a massage with the body oil she'd brought.
“Uh, baby, I thought we'd try something different this time,” Darryl said.
“If you want something other than the usual, it's gonna cost you.”
Darryl ran a soft hand over Amaryllis's bare back. “You know money is no object. How freaky are you?”
Amaryllis's eyebrows raised a bit. She wasn't prepared for this question. “What do you mean?”
“How far are you willing to go?”
It was all about the money with Amaryllis. “How much do you wanna spend?”
From beneath his pillow, Darryl presented Amaryllis with a wad of one hundred dollar bills folded in a brass money clip. She removed the clip and counted ten thousand dollars and smiled wickedly. “For this, I can be as freaky as you want me to be.”
Darryl laid back on the bed and positioned his arms behind his head. Just as Amaryllis started to get her groove on with him, she felt a hand, not belonging to Darryl, caress her right shoulder. Amaryllis turned to see three naked men standing next to the bed. She immediately recognized their faces and recalled dancing for them and other professional athletes at a bachelor party at Darryl's house a year and a half ago. The man standing the closest to the bed, Amaryllis remembered as the groom. She saw the platinum wedding band as he pleasured himself. Amaryllis hopped off of Darryl to cover herself with the silk sheets. Her face held a horrifying expression.
“What the heck is going on?” she asked.
“You said you could be as freaky as I wanted you to be,” Darryl said to her.
wanted me to be, Darryl, not them.” As she responded to Darryl, Amaryllis eyed the other men in disgust.
Darryl firmly gripped her arm. “They each paid a high price for you.”
Whatever Darryl had planned for Amaryllis to do with these men was not happening. She tried to wiggle her wrist free of his tight grip. “I don't care, Darryl. I'm not down with this and you're hurting my arm.”
He yanked Amaryllis' arm and threw her onto the bed.
“Do not embarrass me in front of my people. You're gonna give them their money's worth.”
Amaryllis tried to escape, but the groom caught her and threw her back on the bed.
Darryl slapped her face. “Didn't I tell you not to embarrass me?”
When Amaryllis began kicking, screaming, and hollering, Darryl punched her jaw with a blow that took her breath away. He instructed the groom to hold her arms, and the other two men to grab her legs and spread them wide. Amaryllis lay on the bed like a rag doll as Darryl gave the groom permission to have his way with her. The more Amaryllis screamed, the harder Darryl's punches became. She tried her best to fight and wiggle free from their grips. Darryl flipped Amaryllis over while one man held her arms down and she felt her shoulder snap out of place.
She screamed again and Darryl punched her in her left eye. “Shut up and be still,” he ordered.
The pain and torture was too much for Amaryllis to bare. She managed to free her legs and cross them. Two men grabbed one leg each and forcefully separated them so far apart, she felt as if they had broken her pelvis. Amaryllis screamed and cried as the men, including Darryl, mauled her broken body.
After what seemed like an eternity, the men released Amaryllis's arms and legs. All but Darryl left the master suite. He wasn't phased at her bruised torso and tear stained face. He threw the money she had earned on the bed. “Get up and get out of my house.”
Amaryllis winced and moaned at every move she made. She could only work with one arm and one leg. She got dressed as fast and as best as she could, and when she carefully made her way down the spiral staircase, with the cash in her hand, she saw the men sitting in the living room drinking and smoking.
Darryl stood and came to her as she tried to hurry out the front door. He gripped the back of Amaryllis' neck and turned her face toward his own. “What happened to you, Amaryllis?”
She looked into his eyes as tears streamed from her own. She knew what her answer had to be. “I slipped and fell down the stairs.”
Darryl released her neck and softly kissed her tears. “Good girl. Go and get yourself checked out.”
Amaryllis drove onto Interstate 294 heading south, moaning and crying. She sat lopsided because of her painful, injured pelvis, and her shoulder felt like knives were piercing her. Her vision began to fade and then she saw nothing. Amaryllis' silver Nissan Maxima veered right into a ditch at sixty miles per hour.
Amaryllis woke up five hours later in the intensive care unit at Illinois Masonic Hospital. When she was questioned about her injuries, Amaryllis stated that she had fallen down a flight of stairs at a friend's house and was driving herself to the emergency room when she lost consciousness.
Veronica sat quietly by Amaryllis' side as she told her story. When they were finally alone, she looked at her daughter. “Amaryllis, what really happened at Darryl's house?”
Stitches sewn in the corners of her mouth made it difficult for Amaryllis to speak. “He wanted to share me with three other men.”
“Were they paying?” Veronica asked without warmth or compassion for her daughter's injuries.
Amaryllis's left eye was covered with bandages. With her right eye, she frowned at her mother. “What difference does it make, Veronica? I wasn't gonna let them use me like that.”
As usual, Veronica only focused on money. “So, you got your butt whipped for free? You ain't got nothin' to show for your bruises?”